Dallas history, tonight! Bob Reitz at Half Price Books

December 28, 2017

History teachers, and parents of students — and students (why shouldn’t you direct your own learning?) — note this event TONIGHT.

Dallas historian Bob Reitz presents “Collectible Conversations: The History of Dallas in the 50s and 60s,” at Half Price Books’ mothership at 5803 E Northwest Hwy (just off the Dallas Parkway).

Reitz is an old friend, curator of Circle 10 Council, BSA’s Harbin Scout Museum, housed at Camp Wisdom on Redbird Lane — a greater resource since the National Scout Museum decamped from Irving in September. He’s a homegrown Dallas boy, loaded with history of the tumultuous two decades from 1950 to 1970

Half Price Books’s blog featured an interview with Bob, which I crib here for your convenience (and to preserve it!):

For the December presentation in our monthly Collectible Conversations series at the HPB Flagship in Dallas, we welcome Dallas historian Bob Reitz. Reitz will discuss his growing up in Dallas in the 50s and 60s using books as his reference points. Bob gave an earlier Collectible Conversations talk specifically about his life in bookstores and his 37 books about bookstores from his collection.

Coll Conv 8 31 3

We asked Bob to give us a little preview of his upcoming talk.

When did you first feel that Dallas in the 50s and 60s was a special place and time?
In January of 1954, my father’s insurance company transferred him to Dallas from upstate New York. We had a new house built in the Casa View section of northeast Dallas. Cotton fields were being plowed under to create homes for newly returned servicemen beginning to start families after World War II. I started first grade and finished high school living in the same house. I still have a small group of friends from these times. Growing up, it seemed normal to have new movie houses, drive-ins, libraries, swimming pools and a thriving downtown. I never realized as a kid what we had in these unique and special times.

I’ve always thought that besides your family, your neighborhood makes the biggest difference in your life. I didn’t grow up smelling salt water from the ocean or seeing snow-covered mountains on the horizon. I grew up on the rolling blackland prairies in a large urban city straddling the Trinity River.

I know you own many books on the subject. Is there one that may best encapsulate the era for, say, a 20-year-old reader from Milwaukee?
Probably the most thoughtful book about this era in Dallas is by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright (who graduated from Dallas’s Woodrow Wilson High School). The cover of his book In the New World:  Growing Up with America from the Sixties to the Eighties (1989) reads: “It’s both a story of one man’s coming of age in 1960s Dallas and a provocative account of the end of American innocence, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the Vietnam War, and the Civil Rights era.”

Were there any particular events of the 50s or 60s that made the biggest impression on you?
One significant event took place in August of 1960 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America. Five thousand Scouts camped on a hill overlooking White Rock Lake. I had never seen so many Scouts in one place at one time—lines of tents covered the sloping hill in the middle of the city. Today, there is a sign on the slope designating the location as Scout Hill.

The rest of the world probably thinks of President Kennedy’s assassination as the most important event that occurred in Dallas in the 60s. Are many of your books primarily or partially about that event?
I was a junior in high school on that fateful November 22, 1963. I was finishing lunch when a student ran in and said, “The president has been shot, the president has been shot!” They moved us into the auditorium and by 2 p.m. they dismissed classes for the day.

We stayed glued to the television for the next week, witnessing the supposed ineptness of the Dallas Police play out on national TV, including the on-air killing of Lee Harvey Oswald by night club operator Jack Ruby. In the end, the police did pretty well. They caught Oswald within two hours, but Dallas became the laughing stock of the whole nation.

The Kennedy assassination spawned a couple of excellent novels of the era: Libra by Don DeLillo (1998) and November 22 by Bryan Woolley (2013). Author Norman Mailer wrote a telling non-fiction book, Oswald’s Tale: An American Mystery (1995), covering the early life of Lee Harvey Oswald.

Also in my collection is the book Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy by Vincent Bugliosi (2007). He concludes that Oswald was the lone gunman and destroys every one of the conspiracy theories.

Another book that agrees Oswald was the lone gunman also asserts that the darkest days of Dallas were caused by local ultraconservatives, such as oilman H.L. Hunt, former Army general Edwin Walker and national congressman, Bruce Alger. That book is Nut Country: Right Wing Dallas and the Birth of the Southern Strategy, by Edward H. Miller (2015).

In your previous Collectibles Conversation presentation, you referred to many Dallas bookstores in whose aisles you lost yourself. How big a role did its bookstores play in your understanding of Dallas history?
Dallas bookstores and libraries have been important throughout all my life. When I was small my dad drove my sister and me to the Lakewood Theater on Saturdays to watch a double feature movie and the cartoons. Afterwards we walked across the street to the Lakewood Library, which allowed us to call home (in the pre-cell phone era). While waiting for dad to come, we checked out lots of books.

Closer to home, I was part of the opening of the Casa View Library, which in 1964 set a national record of checking out over 9,000 books in a single day! In appreciation of the library’s influence in my life, I have put together twenty exhibits at the downtown Dallas Library on a wide variety of subjects, all from my personal book collection.

As a young teenager, I could visit Harper’s Used Books in the Deep Ellum section of downtown Dallas. My primary goal was to collect old Boy Scout Handbooks. What I found was so much more. A college student visited the same bookstore a couple of years before me. He became a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Larry McMurtry, of Lonesome Dove fame. McMurtry wrote about the changes that occurred as Texas changed from a rural to a mostly urban economy.

My experiences in bookstores have enriched my life and broadened my perspective on how I grew up in Dallas and what I can give back to the cultural life of the city.

Want to hear more from Bob about life in Dallas in the 50s and 60s?  Join us at the HPB Flagship in Dallas for Collectible Conversations: 1950s and 60s Dallas Through Books on Thursday December 28 at 6 p.m.!

Steve is the”Buy Guy” at Half Price Books Corporate.

via Collectible Conversations: The History of Dallas in the 50s & 60s Through Books

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Flag of Wisdom

September 11, 2016

U.S. flag flying in a stiff, top-of-Cedar-Hill breeze, at Camp Wisdom, part of Camp Billy Sowell, in Dallas, Circle 10 Council BSA.

Feel free to use and distribute, though I would appreciate attribution if you do. Handheld iPhone6 video by Ed Darrell.

Update: Here’s a YouTube version, which may be easier for you to copy and embed.

 


Please give to Scouting for Food on Saturday, February 13

February 12, 2016

Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts in Southwest Dallas County will collect food for our local food pantries on Saturday, February 13, 2016.

Scouting for Food in Dallas, Texas area, February 13, 2016. Image from Yorktown Pack 200

Scouting for Food in Dallas, Texas area, February 13, 2016. Image from Yorktown Pack 200

(Of course, Scouts throughout Circle 10 Council, BSA, will be collecting in the rest of the Council, the counties around Dallas up to the Oklahoma border.)

Food pantries and outreach ministries in the Best Southwest Area some years rely on this February Scout service campaign to carry them through Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, in the past decade donations have not been sufficient to meet with demand. If you’ve given four or five cans of food in the past, please give eight or ten, if you can, this year.

Please give generously when a Scout knocks on your door.

Press release from the Council:

Scouting for Food is the largest single-day food collection event in Dallas and one of the largest in the nation. On one day, approximately 30,000 Scouts go door-to-door collecting non-perishable food items for the less fortunate. The food is then distributed to local food pantries and assistance agencies across Circle Ten Council.

Tom Thumb has sponsored this food drive for 28 years and collects food at their locations throughout the entire month of February.

What is Scouting for Food?
Scouting for Food is the largest door-to-door food collection effort in the Dallas-Fort Worth area benefiting more than 45 assistance agencies across the area.

Who helps with Scouting for Food?
Scouting for Food involves approximately 30,000 Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Venturers, friends, family and volunteers from the Circle Ten Council, BSA.

2016 Scouting for Food Dates:  February 13, 2016

Food items can also be dropped off at any Tom Thumb Food and Pharmacy throughout the month of February!


Texas earthquakes, 2014

January 7, 2015

WFAA Channel 8 map of four quakes confirmed by 10:00 p.m. news casts, showing how close the quakes are in proximity to each other and the site of the old Cowboys Football Stadium.

WFAA Channel 8 map of four quakes confirmed by 10:00 p.m. news casts, showing how close the quakes are in proximity to each other and the site of the old Cowboys Football Stadium.

This Tweet from our local NBC TV affiliate sums it up nicely.

North Texas shook yesterday — not big quakes, but a bunch of ’em — and that doesn’t sit well with Texas oil executives, since it seems likely gas and oil drilling, especially hydraulic fracturing (fracking), and especially waste-water reinjection seem to be causes.

I grew up in Utah.  We had quakes you could feel, at least weekly.  Our home sat less than a mile west of the Wasatch Fault.  Many mornings my mother would stand drinking her coffee, looking over the stove and out our kitchen window at Mt. Timpanogos, remarking on the earthquakes.  Most often we couldn’t feel them, but the power and telephone lines that slashed through our $10 million view of the mountain would dance in sine waves during quakes. It was pretty cool.

Along the more famous faults, one rarely comes on more than a couple of quakes a day.

Dallas — more accurately, Irving — is far away from most major faults, and rarely has more than a couple of quakes a year in recent human history.

So this swarm of quakes makes news!

WTVT Channel 11 (CBS) reported:

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – Nine earthquakes, three of them with a 3-point magnitude or greater, rocked North Texas Tuesday into early Wednesday, knocking items off walls, causing cracks to appear in ceilings and generally rattling nerves across the region.

“The last one really shook,” said CBS 11 anchor and reporter Ken Molestina, who felt the the earth move in the White Rock Lake area of Dallas.

The latest quake, reported just before 1 a.m. Wednesday, measured in at a 3.1 magnitude, and was centered near the convergence of State Highway 114, Loop 12, and the Airport Freeway near the old Texas Stadium site in Irving.

Others felt the temblor in the Uptown area of Dallas and as far away as Bedford and Mesquite.

Here’s a list of the quakes in order of when they happened:

7:37 a.m.                    2.3 magnitude

3:10 p.m.                    3.5 magnitude

6:52 p.m.                    3.6 magnitude

8:11 p.m.                    2.9 magnitude

8:12 p.m.                    2.7 magnitude

9:54 p.m.                    1.7 magnitude

10:05 p.m.                  2.4 magnitude

11:02 PM                   1.6 magnitude

12:59 AM                   3.1 magnitude

Rafael Abreu, a geophysicist with the USGS, spoke with NewsRadio 1080 KRLD and said while the Irving earthquakes happened only hours apart, given the strength and intensity, “we’re not calling it an aftershock.”

At last count Tuesday night, there had been 24 or more earthquakes in the Irving area since November 1, 2014.

Jokes fly, too.  Not this much shaking since Elvis toured the area heavily in 1957, some say.

Screen capture of USGS reports of four earthquakes in or near Irving, Texas, on January 6, 2014

Screen capture of USGS reports of four earthquakes in or near Irving, Texas, on January 6, 2014

Recent studies show earthquakes in other areas linked to oil and gas drilling and extraction.  All of these quakes are in close proximity to working wells or wells being drilled.

What’s the Earth trying to tell us?

Details from USGS on biggest quake, January 6, 2014

Details from USGS on biggest quake, January 6, 2014

More:

Historically, Texas has not been a hotbed of earthquake activity, between 1973 and 2012.  Texas Seismicity Map from USGS.

Texas Seismicity, 1973-2012. USGS


Dallas in the fog

December 10, 2014

Enough of the jokes about how nature makes Dallas beautiful by covering everything up.

There were some nice views of Dallas today, with the fog, though.

From WFAA-TV’s tower camera, just before sunrise:

Dallas in the fog, December 9, 2014; photo from WFAA-TV's tower camera.

Dallas in the fog, December 9, 2014; photo from WFAA-TV’s tower camera.

This photo produced the most stir, I think.  Terry Maxon posted it at his Aviation Blog with the Dallas Morning News:

Maxon wrote:

Maxon wrote: “Mike Alvstad was flying into Dallas/Fort Worth on Tuesday morning and took a photo as his flight from Tampa, Fla., passed south and west of downtown Dallas. He shared it with Lee Evans, who shared it with us, and we liked it a lot.”

Looking for landmarks?  Maxon explained:

In the sea of clouds, you can see the top of Reunion Tower a bit lower to the right. There’s the wedge-topped Fountain Place in the lower center of the downtown cluster. Off to the left by itself is Cityplace, we believe.

Note that even though we could barely see a block ahead of us at ground level, the skyscrapers are casting shadows on the top of the fog clouds.

You want to see what it looked like from the upper floors of those buildings?  Kathryn’s office is below the clouds.  When I worked in the high floors of the old Ling/Temco/Vought Building (now Trammell Crow Tower, I think) we didn’t have cell phones with cameras, and electronic imaging was in its commercialized infancy.  I never had the old 35mm film cameras with me on those few occasions when we rode the elevators up out of the fog, and could almost wave to someone in the tower across the way.  Justin Turveen got off a few shots today, but is being stingy with the photos at his flickr site. Check it out if you wish.

It was foggy across the area starting last night, including Denton, which is home to the University of North Texas and Texas Women’s University:

Photo by Samantha Irene Balderas, at the campus of the University of North Texas (UNT), December 8, 2014

Photo by Samantha Irene Balderas, at the campus of the University of North Texas (UNT), December 8, 2014

Jeff Rogers got a sunrise in McKinney, through the fog:

Sunrise through fog in McKinney, Texas. Photo by Jeff Rogers

Sunrise through fog in McKinney, Texas. Photo by Jeff Rogers

Angelica Villalobos Yates took her camera with her walking the dog; quintessential Texas fog shot:

Angelica Villalobos Yates surprised a tree in the Texas fog.

Angelica Villalobos Yates surprised a tree in the Texas fog.

Toni Wolff Margolis caught birds on a wire in the fog.

Toni Wolff Margolis caught birds on a wire in the fog.

From the tall buildings in downtown Dallas, a shot by Cindy Ackerson Bivins:

Photo from the Bank of America Tower of other Dallas buildings in the fog, December 9, 2014.  Photo by Cindy Ackerson Bivins

Photo from the Bank of America Tower of other Dallas buildings in the fog, December 9, 2014. Photo by Cindy Ackerson Bivins

Mike Prendergrast at Aerial DFW.com sent his DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus Drone to work, rising above the clouds, with good results, I think. He had me when I read that he included some time-lapse in there . . .

(Yes, Prendergrast is a great guy, and a good photographer, and he followed the rules and stayed low and out of the way of aircraft.)

Do you have a nice shot of Dallas in the fog to share?  Send it to me, or post it in comments.

More:

Tip of the old scrub brush to Suzy Bangs, who I hope is joining us again this week to take a hot Christmas meal and cheer to the good people at the Pleasant Grove Senior Recreation Center (that’s Pleasant Grove, Texas). Thanks, too, for the splash from Dubious Quality (who is this Gilbert fellow?).


Babe Ruth and a Circle 10 Council, BSA, Boy Scout, 1929

November 4, 2014

1929 photo of Babe Ruth, with Robert W. Johnsey, a Dallas Boy Scout.

1929 photo of Babe Ruth, with Robert W. Johnsey, a Dallas Boy Scout.

An old library photo?

A Facebook page called Traces of Texas posted this photo, with this explanation:

Babe Ruth and a Dallas boy scout, In 1929, the era’s most famous, revered, and idolized American sportsman, George Herman “Babe” Ruth, came to Dallas to speak on behalf of the Circle Ten Council and promote scouting to local businessmen. After delivering a rousing speech to a packed house, a Dallas Morning News photographer asked him for a picture. The Babe motioned to a Scout to join him. And for young Robert W. Johnsey, that must have been the highlight of his life.

Where did Traces of Texas get those details, and the photo?

I can find data bases that list a Robert W. Johnsey from Dallas, born in 1916, and dying in Dallas in 1995.  Without paying the fat fees demanded, I learn that one database said he died having never married.  Right age, but is that the right guy?

Then I find notes for a France Ray Mead Johnsey at Find A Grave.  It says she died in 2004, preceded in death by her husband Robert, who died in 1995.

Interesting little mysteries.

Anybody Remember  a Robert W. Johnsey from Dallas, Texas?  Can you give us more details?

Babe Ruth returned to Dallas in 1947. Dallas Observer noted:  On July 6, 1947, it was announced that George Herman Ruth would be coming to Dallas on July 9. The occasion: an appearance during a double-header at Rebel Stadium in Oak Cliff on behalf of the American Legion junior baseball program. That Wednesday would be known, according to the ad that ran on Page Four of The Dallas News, as Babe Ruth Day in Dallas, featuring

Babe Ruth returned to Dallas in 1947. Dallas Observer noted: On July 6, 1947, it was announced that George Herman Ruth would be coming to Dallas on July 9. The occasion: an appearance during a double-header at Rebel Stadium in Oak Cliff on behalf of the American Legion junior baseball program. That Wednesday would be known, according to the ad that ran on Page Four of The Dallas News, as Babe Ruth Day in Dallas, featuring “the immortal and beloved” ballplayer who’d been gravely ill only six months earlier. Tickets for his appearance at the ballpark ran one dollar, 30 cents for students.


Bob Reitz remembers Dallas — this afternoon!

May 10, 2014

Caption from the Dallas Morning News blogs:  This aerial photo shows the Casa View shopping village and the surrounding area in 1957, three years after Bob Reitz moved into the neighborhood with his family at age 7. Reitz is presenting a talk titled

Caption from the Dallas Morning News blogs: This aerial photo shows the Casa View shopping village and the surrounding area in 1957, three years after Bob Reitz moved into the neighborhood with his family at age 7. Reitz is presenting a talk titled “A Time We Once Shared” from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Dallas’ White Rock Hills Branch Library. File 1957 / Staff Photo

Steve Blow writes columns for the local section of the Dallas Morning News Wednesday he featured one of our veteran Scouters from Wisdom Trail District here in the southwest corner of Dallas County.

Dallas and Scout historian Bob Reitz - Photo by Ed Darrell

Dallas and Scout historian Bob Reitz

Bob Reitz is also the curator of the Jack Harbin Boy Scout Museum at Camp Wisdom, a surprisingly great store of Scout history.  Among many other things he does well, Bob is a historian of great stories.

This afternoon, May 10, he’s telling stories of Dallas in his growing up years in the “middle-middle class” neighborhood of Casa View, east of downtown.  Bob’s got two hours (it will seem like one or less) at the White Rock Hills Branch Library, starting at 2:00 p.m. (9150 Ferguson Rd, 75228 (map))

You ought to go.

Below the fold, Steve Blow’s column, should it disappear from the DMN site.

Read the rest of this entry »


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