Remembering Dallas When It Was Dallas: Follow up

A few weeks back I posted asking readers to post their memories of Dallas back when it was still a “small” town and got some great responses.

Reader Barclay Kleese remembered:

My Grandfather started a radio show called the Early Birds. It aired every morning. Kind of a music, skit kind of thing. I was only six or seven at the time, but I remember going down with my Dad, who played sax and clarinet on the show.
I have some great memories and some pics.
Remember the Creek on Greenville Ave. Pappy’s Showland. Louanns. Open air music at the Shell at Fair Park. Streetcars downtown. The peanut shop downtown…ahh what a smell. Cowboys playing the Texans at the Cotton Bowl. 50 cents to sit in the end zone. Saw the big tornado from my front yard. Elvis came to town. We had no air conditioner….fans. Ice Box and the guy would chip us off a piece to suck on. Central only went to Richardson. Then you had to get on Greenville (Hwy 5) to go any further north. And Central wasn’t all that busy. Lovers Lane was really lovers’ lane.
Thanks for the memories. TV went off at night…..that is when you finally GOT klif.gifa TV. You could drive by the KLIF station and look up and see the DJ.

Great stuff. Most a bit before my time (hint – I was born the year of the great tornado), but I do remember the Fair Park Band Shell and the KLIF studios in their distinctive triangular building at the intersections of S. Central, Commerce and Jackson St. as shown in this picture.

Reader Shirley adds this great stuff:

I was 19 years old, it was late 1955…I had just hit Big “D” from a small East Texas town. WRR ruled the airwaves from 10pm to midnight with that “race music” as it was called and all the young’uns from 13 to 25 could not wait to turn on the “Kool Fool” Jim Lowe at night. KLIF ruled with the top 40 format and became the top radio station in the USA. Our radio’s were on KLIF until Lowe’s Kat Karavan at night, then back to KLIF.

I have posted some stuff about Dallas and the 50’s on my web page: dance, clubs music etc.

Does anyone remember the “sitting on the pole” stunt KLIF did in around ‘57 ?

Oh! by the way semitough, sounds like your dad and I might be around the same age, yep, write a little blurb about Ruby’s Vegas Club as well as Lucas B&B next door, also the It’ll Do Club.

have your Dad check out www.belovedcity.com

I can’t remember WRR as anything other than a classical station. I do remember KLIF which ruled the radio in Dallas until KNUS and the newfangled FM stations came online in the early 70s. I remember Dad talking about the “It’ll Do Club” but not Lucas B&B. Unfortunately we lost him in 1983 before I understood the value of capturing all his stories in some format or other. I’m only left with dim memories of snippets of stories across the years. Thanks Shirley for bringing those sweet memories to share.

And last, but definitely not least, intertube friend Scot over at businessgolf, the man who got this trip down memory lane started writes:

I remember Louann’s (the first place I went to NOT learn to dance), the 50 cent Cowboy Seats and the tornado I do remember with a vague memory of Central ending at the Mink Farm where TI is now. I do remembering sitting in the back seat of my Dad’s 1950 Chevy Deluxe taking a full day trip to Lake Texoma when I was five… The chipped ice and no air was around the we quit walking five miles to school barefoot in the snow. But I love those memories.

Uh hey buddy, you forgot “uphill both ways”. :-) I don’t ever remember 50 cent seats at the Cowboy games, but I do remember attending a Pokes-Vikings game before Texas Stadium got all luxury suited up. There was an open space between the upper deck and the roof that allowed air to flow, the way I.M. Pei intended it. My best friend was dating a girl who danced on the Bryan Adams Belles, who were performing at halftime. We went out afterward and she set me up with one of her drill team friend. Sitting in the front seat with a girl I barely knew while they made out heavily in the back seat. One word-awkward. I wonder if somewhere she’s remembering that awkward night too? If so, that would really be awkward.

lee-park.jpgI also remember going to free afternoon concerts in Lee Park with cousin Beefy then catching a movie at the old Inwood Theater in the evening. I also remember my first real rock concert, Leon Russell and local great Johnny Nitzinger at Dallas Memorial Auditorium circa 1971. None of our parents would let us drive downtown so we had to catch a bus. I’m not sure which was worse. I remember drive in movies at the Gemini with cousin Becky who was always trying to fix me up with some friend’s little sister. She was a few years older and thought it was “cute”. Me? Not so much.

I remember weekend trips down Hawn Freeway to the relatively new lake, Cedar Creek Reservoir, and finally moving down there full time in 73. Which of course forced me to drive back to Dallas on weekends for nights at Travis Street Electric Company, Hangar 19, The Bellringer and other discotheques who’s names have faded into oblivion.

Thanks everyone for taking the time to contribute. Feel free to leave additional memories in the comments and I’m sure we’ll revisit this topic in the not too distant future.

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~ by semitough on June 18, 2007.

12 Responses to “Remembering Dallas When It Was Dallas: Follow up”

  1. Semi,
    We have had to have been in the same room at very same time at some of these places at the because it sounds like you were at every place I was seeing the same thing you were seeing…this just has to be too weird. These stories just keep churning stuff up that was fun.

    The ol Travis Street Electric Company…WOW! Every John Travolta wannabe hit that joint. Yep, the club scene in Dallas was cooking back then…I remember Poor David’s Pub with it was Poor David’s Pub and Stephen Stills walked in and started playing. I was the only person in the place who knew who he was.

    OH, and the memories of using a fake ID to get into the Lakewood Bar and Grill. I actually remember when you could park right in front of the Greenville Ave Bar and Grill. Then of course the Cave downtown which was scarier than any Horror House anyone could produce.

    Of course there was the summertime drive out to Lavon to jump off the train trestle before a train came or the sheriff …Yes, things were crazy back ‘In-The-Day’. Of course I did all of this driving around on a $2 dollar tank of gas in a 1966 VW Bug listening to KLIF on the AM…things really have changed…

    I really look forward coming over here an reading more about what went on in Dallas when it was fun to go out… Hope more people provide more about what they remember about Dallas…this is fun reading.

  2. Speaking of gas. My stepfather bought a Gulf service station in 1970. It was at the corner of Marsalis Ave and I-35, R.L. Thornton freeway. His brother owned the Mobil across the freeway. On opening day in May of 1970 gas was 28 cents a gallon.

    Poor David’s Pub? Been there. Lakewood Bar & Grill? Oh yeah. Never made The Cave downtown, but did hang out a bit in a place called TV Bar. It was on Pacific just west of S. Central. They never asked for an ID. Dark, smoky, 1950’s vinyl and chrome kind of place. And the funny thing is, I don’t remember there being a TV anywhere in the place. They tore it down in the 80’s and turned it into a parking lot.

  3. [...] Dallas Radio – Semi-tough- Remembering Dallas when it was really Dallas. [...]

  4. Semi-tough so glad you enjoyed my memories from the ’50’s. I am very sorry to hear that you lost your Dad…and at such a young age. I have lost many friends the past few years…at my age it is just a fact of life…but never easy…I spend a great deal of time talking to my peers about writing down memories…especially those that cover those years that were transitional ones. Dallas was a very hip and special little city in the ’50’s.

    Yeah!…you could see a Cowboy game at the cotton bowl the first year they played…pre-season if I remember correctly for .50 end zone…$l.00…fifty yard line…The pokes were so bad the first 4 or 5 years…they almost had to give tickets away…but my family became fans the first year and have remained so until this day…eventhough…I have not lived in Dallas since the late ’60’s…My first car was a dandy 1953 green and white chevy. Never had more than 4 or 5 gallons of gas in it the 10 years it provided me with vir- tually trouble free transportation. Keep encouraging the folks to share their priceless memories.

  5. I remember visiting my great aunt, who lived at the White Plaza hotel downtown for many years. Walking the streets of BIG D as a kid and looking into the windows of all the shops including Neiman-Marcus. I also remember the smell of the exhaust from the city busses that ran daily downtown. I always liked Dallas better than Houston because Dallas had better radio stations (like KLIF, KBOX). Dallas has always been a clean city compared to most of the others in this state. Still one of my favorites.

  6. Does anyone have any information about the old Lucas B & B Cafe? I used to go there with my parents in the early 50’s when I was a student at Woodrow. I was just thinking about it and wondered when it went out of business?

  7. who was the grandfather who started The Early Birds in Dallas on radio.?

  8. I just found this web site, this is great. I loved dancing at Lou Anns, the “push” was in at that time, wish there were other places like Lou Anns now. In the 60’s for a little slumming which was harmless in those days my girlfriends and I would go to the Spot 77 on Harry Hines, listen to Big Blue Diamond by someone named “Gene” and have a great time. I grew up in Farmers Branch and remember the tornado of the’50’s, my little sister was visiting our cousins in Dallas, she was under a coffee table when it hit the house next door. That house also was a night club in the 70’s, can’t remember the name of it.

  9. I have just found this site–some years after previous comments. But so thrilled to read it. I moved from Tulsa OK in 1970 to Big D with no job. I found Dallas to have the friendliest people in the world. I got a day job at Northpark Mall and started going to clubs with a neighbor friend. About a year later I got a part time job at night at TRAVIS STREET ELECTRIC COMPANY. I was the girl at the front door who checked ID’s and took the money. I loved it and remember so many good times. I remember the Electric Circus (of course), Mother Blues, Gerties, the Cave, the Cellar, the Players Club, Sneaky Petes and so many others. I remember the free concerts in Lee Park. And Turtle Creek was beautiful. I remember the beautiful homes on Swiss Avenue, and in Highland Park. I rode the bus a lot to downtown. Dallas had a great concert venue. I saw many big named bands like the Roling Stones, Chicago, Led Zepellin, Jimi Hendrix, Robin Trower, ZZ Top, Rush, Traffic, Leon Russel (from Tulsa) and so many more. The best radio station was KZEW. Never heard about the pole sitter in ’57 but there was another DJ–James Dean–forgot what radio station who did that stunt in ’71 or ’72. Remember Love Field was “the airport”; Bachman Lake & Whiterock Lake was the place to “cruise”. Sanger Harris downtown had the most beautiful window displays at Christmas. Remember Kellers Drive In had the best hamburgers. Cattlemens Steakhouse had the very best steaks in town. Campisi’s Egyptian Room had the best lasagna. Ianni’s had the best stuffed mushrooms. I remember there were a lot of Drive In Movie places. You could see a movie real cheap. My friend had a 66 Mustang convertible and we drove around Big D a lot. Central Expwy was outdated even then–lots of traffic but the best way to get to downtown quick. Then LBJ was built and remember it didn’t have a lot of traffic jams till some years later. Then DFW airport was built and after it opened my friend and I rode around the whole airport on the passenger trolley. It was nearly empty–hardly anyone there. Then some years later, saw the Delta crash at the end of the runway while we were driving on SH114. Remember when SH183 was 2 lane asphalt. Remember when Plano & McKinney were just small towns. I cried when they demolished Texas Stadium–lots of good memories there watching the Cowboys. I live in Tulsa now and miss Big D a lot. Thanks for the memories!

  10. Gosh…can’t believe this thread is still alive. Thank goodness it is. It is so sweet for an old timer like me to feel such a kinship with all of the different memories posted here which are still vivedly fresh and familiar to me after more than fifty years. In an earlier post someone asked about Lucas B&B resturant on Oak Lawn. I lived just down the street from this great eating place while working at Love Field for Delta Air lines…This period of around 56-68. I knew {Pete Lucas who’s family owned B&B. Our crowd always headed for B&B after all the clubs closed. It stayed open all night and the radio DJ’s and off air personnel hung out there as well as local musicans, strippers and some mobsters. Pete was always there and saw to it that the best breakfast and coffee was served and at reasonable prices. The wait staff was great and always decked out in freshly starched uniforms with fresh hair do’s and manicured fingernails. Pete Lucsas furnished the hair salon, great nails and fresh uniforms for all his wait staff. Jack Ruby’s joint “The Vegas Club'” was next door…but he and Pete did not get along and Ruby was not welcome in B&B after he and Pete had a run in over an ally way that ran between the two clubs. Las Vegas and New York City had nothing on Dallas during these years. An old ex-gambler from Dallas helped develop Vegas into the gambling Meca it became. Dallas was known for it’s class and the wealthy and famous of the world traveled to shop at NM. All you native young Dallasites…Be proud always of your special HOME TOWN.

    • Hi Shirley – I am Pete Lucas Sr Daughter Cynthia,. Thank you for the kind words about my Dad Pete Lucas Sr. You are wonderful. Dallas is a wonderful city and we should appreciate the history of the positive. You are wonderful for the kind words of the past reflections of Lucas B&B.

  11. Cynthia,

    “Jr” and I were friends as well as the waitresses Smokey, Alma, and Betty. I loved the place and ate there almost everyday. Met Governor Clements there one Sunday when Smokey said “I want to introduce you to someone behind you” and it was the Governor. He asked how I liked the “ham steak and eggs with cheese” and I told him “no better anywhere”. Junior always came out and greeted me when he was there. I know Smokey’s husband died right before they closed ans she took it very hard. She was talking about moving to Alaska after that. She was a very special person and we got a kick out of watching Betty react when a rude customer was at her counter (LOL).
    It was a special time in my life and I miss B & B as it was my “second home” after the club scenes and my staff’s at lunch.

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