In The Weeds 8.16.17: We’re Hungry!

We have three old menus for local businesses here in the Special Collections Dept at the Emily Fowler Library. We think “The Tomato” example is from the early 2000s after they were no longer franchised and the “Flying Tomato” menu is from the mid-to-late 1990s. The Duck Inn menu is probably from the early 2000s, as well.

The Duck Inn existed for nearly 60 years at the same location in Lake Dallas from 1945 to mid 2000’s and were known by the famous and funny motto, “Duck Inn and Waddle Out!” The Flying Tomato was established in 1984 at 1226 West Hickory Street on a location formerly occupied by The Crossroads Club and Bullwinkle’s.

Now, without further ado, here they are and we cannot be held responsible for your hunger pangs…

DuckMenuOutside

DuckMenuInside

Here’s an ad from the January 2, 1958 Record-Chronicle advertising the newly “Rmodeled” (oops!) Duck Inn:

DuckAd

20170816101301_00001

TomatoMenuInside

TomatoMenuBWoutside

TomatoMenuBWInside

Here’s a 1986 Alec Williams photo of the Flying Tomato during the Fry Street Fair of that year:

Tomato

I had too much fun tagging this blog post with words like, “Gutbuster”, “catfish”, “hushpuppies”, etc.

Written by Chuck Voellinger. For questions or comments please email me at chuck.voellinger@cityofdenton.com. Thanks for reading!

In The Weeds, 5.9.17: Victoria Ebbels

In the early 1920’s, a young New York-trained artist moved to Denton to teach at the College of Industrial Arts, now known as TWU, and apparently became an assistant professor in Fine Arts. There is a bit of a mystery here, something in which we like to delve here at “In The Weeds”. Nowhere is she mentioned in the Daedalian yearbooks from 1921-1923. She is however listed as a faculty member from those school years in the College Bulletin, Historical Sketch of TSCW, The First Thirty Three Years 1903-1936 by E.V. White, Dean of the College. Why wasn’t she listed as an Assistant Professor in two editions of the yearbook?

Searching the 1923 Denton City Directory, she is found living at 1213 Carrier Street, which real Denton History geeks will recognize as the former name of the current Austin Street. Here is a photo of the house that occupies that address but we are not sure of its date of construction:

Ebbels 095

Interestingly, in the 1921 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map for Denton, the lot for that address appears to be empty: dentonjune1921sheet15. Was the house pictured above brand new when she lived there?

Here is the page from the City Directory with another mystery:

EbbelsDirectory002

Who is “Grace Ebbels” also living at this address? According to the 1920 census, she was Victoria’s mother.

Ms. Ebbels went on to have a fairly high profile career in art under the professional name of “Victoria Hutson Huntley” with her work in the collections of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Metropolitan Museum in New York, The Chicago Art Institute, etc.  The Smithsonian American Art Museum website has some examples of her work. She went on to have a long career and passed in 1971.

Written by Chuck Voellinger. Questions and comments can be directed to chuck.voellinger@cityofdenton.com.

 

 

 

Weird Science

I have very little background in science.  I am, however, curious about the world.  Most of my questions arise as I’m doing simple, everyday tasks.  I wonder how air neutralizers work as I spray air freshener in a musty room.  I question why hair turns gray as we age when I look in the mirror.  I’m curious how batteries were invented—and why are the batteries at my house always dead?

Several years ago, I stumbled across the book Packing for Mars: the Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach.  Mary Roach is a science writer who is very upfront about the fact that she is not a scientist.  I loved how she addresses questions about how things work, why things are developed, and  how they are studied.  Her explanations are clear easy to understand.  She is willing to ask those “dumb” questions that we all have, like “What happens if an astronaut is sick while wearing a spacesuit?”  I find her books insightful and hilarious.

One of my favorite aspects of her research is that she is hands-on.  She backs everything up with plenty of research from science journals and scholarly articles. Ms. Roach actually goes to visit labs, training grounds, and other areas that are off-limits to most people.  Her interviews with scientists, researchers, businesses, and politicians are candid and she is willing to ask the uncomfortable questions.  She asked Jim Lovell, the Apollo 13 astronaut, if the dandruff and dead skin cells that shed, but have nowhere to go during space flight made it feel like a “snow globe” inside the space capsule.

She observes and often participates in testing and experiments.  In her latest book, Grunt: the Curious Science of Humans at War, she describes smelling the World War II nonlethal malodorant “Who me?” in great detail, giving detailed accounts of not only the physical outcome, but also her thoughts and emotions as she smelled the stink bomb.

If you have a curious mind, like to laugh, and don’t mind a few squeamish descriptions here and there, give Mary Roach’s books a try.

Jennifer Bekker
North Branch Library
gruntbonk gulp my-planet packing-for-marsspookstiff

In The Weeds, 8.10.16: A Square By Any Other Name…

….is still called a “square”. There are 254 counties in Texas and, much like the state itself, their squares represent the varied cultural and architectural influences of over 300 years of Spanish/Mexican, European and early American settlement. We have a volume in our Texas Collection that offers a very detailed and “in the weeds” analysis of them entitled “The Courthouse Square in Texas” by Robert E Veselka.

Denton’s Square falls under the “Shelbyville-related” plan. That is to say, it has a square lot in the center of a grid with nomenclature based on a system developed in 1968 by E.T. Price in his study of courthouse squares from Pennsylvania to Texas and named after a prototype in Shelbyville, Tennessee. Here you can see that plan juxtaposed with others:

shelbyville2003

Denton shares similarities with Archer City, Brownwood, Cleburne, and Jacksboro in that they all feature a symmetrical arrangement of smaller partial blocks on the periphery. Here is a Sanborn Map of Denton from 1926:

Denton1926

 

Shelbyville squares and their variants are the most prevalent in Texas and can be found in 157 counties, or 61% of the total. This style was first adopted in the northeast corner of the state in Clarksville and San Augustine and were familiar to settlers from the eastern United States with their simple grids and focus on the courthouse.

There are three other major influences on the square design in Texas: Spanish/Mexican, German and Railroad. Briefly, in the Hispanic tradition, town squares allowed for a plaza that was not to include any building with nearby locations for the Catholic Church, a military plaza and a courthouse. A quarter of Texas’ squares are based on this influence and naturally include such towns as San Antonio de Bexar, Gonzalez, Goliad, Refugio, etc. Here is a map of San Antonio de Bexar from 1896 showing the Military and Main Plazas:

SanAntonio

 

 

The many thousands of German immigrants in the mid-to-late 19th Century to the Hill Country left their mark as well. Both New Braunfels and Fredericksburg have central squares for public use without buildings and in some ways resemble Anglo design otherwise.

newbraunfels006

Finally, the importance of the railroad in settling and development of vast areas of Texas meant that their planners had no little influence in how towns were laid out. In some instances, the railroad “split” the town with the court house very near the tracks:rr005

If you’ve made it this far in our little trip around Texas court house squares, thanks for joining us. We won’t think you are “square” for peeking around these court house areas on your next trip through Texas.

Written by Chuck Voellinger, Emily Fowler Special Collections Dept. Questions or comments can be directed to chuck.voellinger@cityofdenton.com.

Ali bomaye’

One of the strongest memories I have of my father is watching with him, Muhammad Ali defeat Leon Spinks in 1978 to become the first three-time heavyweight champion in boxing. My father wasn’t a fan of Ali, but he didn’t dislike the man either. Rather, Ali’s grace both in and out of the ring captivated my father and many others including my eight year old self. I set out to learn everything I could about this athlete and through my research ended up becoming a big fan of boxing in my teens.

With the passing of this American legend this month, I know that for many younger than myself, Ali isn’t someone they witnessed live. Rather, they have heard only tales from older family members who witnessed Ali’s boxing career. To learn more about this remarkable man’s life, there are a few media sources the library offers.

Ali

Michael Mann’s “Ali” focuses on a ten year period in Ali’s life. It features two Academy Award nominated performances from Will Smith as the title character and Jon Voight as broadcaster, Howard Cosell. It’s a good primer for anyone not familiar with Ali’s life.

When we were Kings

However, those looking to see the personality that mesmerized so many Americans should look to the Academy Award winning documentary, “When We Were Kings.” The film focuses on the 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” fight between Ali and George Foreman held in Zaire. The fight itself is a memorable event but this documentary shows you everything that led up to it and the many colorful characters involved. Many thought Foreman would kill Ali. But, in the end, it was Ali bomaye’ that was being chanted.

Greatest Fight

Finally, while so much is made of Ali’s life in the ring. His faith and conviction outside the ring are what made him such a memorable and polarizing figure. “Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight” is a 2013 HBO film that focuses on the Supreme Court decision following Ali’s appeal of his conviction in 1967 for refusing to report for induction into the United States military forces during the Vietnam War.  Ali is seen only in news footage. However, his presence looms large as do the personalities that make up the Supreme Court.  It’s a fascinating look not just at an important part of Ali’s life, but the inner workings of the Supreme Court and their decision making. Given the court’s current makeup, such a film is educational not only about the memorable Muhammad Ali, but of our judicial system as well.

Jess Edward Turner
South Branch Library

Need a Good Book?

Summer Reading Club has started off with a bang at the Denton Public Library.  Everyone is ready to enjoy the summer with some great books.

One question that keeps coming up every summer is “Can you recommend a good book?”  I wanted to share some tips on finding great reading materials for all ages that I frequently use when helping at the reference desk or looking for my next book.

First, start with something you like.  Think about some books you have liked in the past.  What are some common themes with those books?  Why did you like them so much?

Next, think about specific aspects of those books you are drawn to.  Were they serious or funny?  Did they fit into a particular genre: romance, science fiction, historical, mystery, etc?  Do you prefer non-fiction and biographies?  Do you relate better to certain types of characters?  Do you like long epics or short stories?

Once you have identified a few key things that you are looking for in a book, try one of these great tools to help you find the perfect book:

Novelist Select is available online for all Denton Public Library cardholders as well as on all library computers and catalogs in each of the three branches for anyone who visits the library.  This is my go-to book recommendation tool.  You can search by title, author, subject, or keyword.  Pre-made lists are available for all ages on popular and timely topics.  It also offers robust advanced search capabilities such as books by grade level, author’s nationality, number of pages, award winner, and more.

Goodreads.com is a popular book recommendation site with members submitting book reviews, creating suggested reading lists, and sharing their love of reading with the social media aspect of the site.  Recommendations are available for youth and adult materials of all types and topics.

Amazon’s Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought feature lets you see titles that others have also selected when purchasing a particular title.  It is easy to jump from title to title and get caught in an endless string of recommendations.  Simply search for a book you liked and scroll down to see other titles that Amazon.com shoppers have also selected to go with that title.

Your Next Read shares recommendations based on Amazon.com recommendations, goodreads.com recommendations and Your Next Read user recommendations.  Recommendations are presented in a bubble map, allowing you to visually move from recommendation to recommendation.  There is a separate tab for searching children’s materials.  Preselected lists are also available for easy browsability.

Of course one of the best resources to help you find a great book is the library staff.  Head over to the reference desk at any of our branches.  We are ready to help you connect with your next favorite book.  We’ll ask you some questions about your reading interests and come up with some great recommendations.

Enjoy your summer and keep reading!

Jennifer Bekker, North Branch Manager

In The Weeds 4.06.16: Fist Fights, Snakebites and Polygamy

We have a collection of 19th and early 20th Century newspaper articles and gleanings about Denton people and events from in and outside the county. They make for fun reading and an opportunity to re-evaluate how we think people lived and behaved in an era we tend to think was so different. There is quite a bit about the sadder side of life such as crimes, deaths, and health issues (“If it bleeds, it leads” is the news axiom). We won’t go into those but, rather, focus on some humor and more lighthearted events. And it was fun to come up with tags for this blog post…

From the Denton County News, Sept. 29, 1898, p.8, c.3:

“BITTEN BY A COPPERHEAD. W. H. Durham, who is employed in Long, Williams & Co’s grocery store, was bitten on a finger last week by a copperhead last Thursday night while engaged in picking up some articles in a dark corner of the store. He immediately drank a quart of whiskey, but the bite was so poisonous that the whole arm swelled considerably. At last accounts, Mr. Durham was improving and is now considered out of danger.” –We think the cure might be worse than than the cause.

From the Legal Tender, Dec.2, 1897, p.1:

“The Green Valley School is progressing fine, and the Algebra class say they can work any thing by the X.Y.Z.”

From the Denton County News, Oct 29th, 1896, p.5, c.1:

“PONDER ITEMS. Ponder, Oct 25. There was quite an interesting wolf chase experienced in Denton creek bottom last Saturday, one being killed by Mr. M. W. Hedrick; also a wild goose and three squirrels.” –A real “wild goose chase”.

From Denton County News, March 2, 1899, p.4,c.3:

“AGAIN IN TROUBLE. Rev. Logan, who conducted a series of services at the Advent Church in this city a year or so ago and who ran away with a young lady of this city is in trouble again, having been arrested in Fort Worth last week charged with having too many wives.”

From the Dallas Weekly Herald, June 6, 1874, p.1:

The editor of the Denton Review takes a whole column of space to tell his readers that he got thrown from a horse and didn’t get killed.” – Ouch! That’s going to sting.

From the Denton County News, Sept. 24, 1896, p.8, c.4:

“Mr. M.D. Saunders, of Fort Worth, has located in Denton and opened a bicycle store in the brick building in the rear of the Masonic building.” –Bicycles. Denton loved them then and loves them now.

From the Denton County News, Sept. 21, 1893, p.3, c.2:

” W.R. Staples and Arthur Smith, living near Stony, had a rough and tumble fight on the farmer’s place Monday which resulted in a number of bruises for each. Mr. Staples came to town and had a physician extract two of his fingers from his own wrist which he had grafted there by rapping Smith too rudely on the mug.” – That must’ve been some punch. How does one graft one’s own fingers to the same wrist?!

From the Denton County News, Jan 31, 1895, p.2,c.2:

“At the residence of Mrs. Stark of Roanoke, can be found a little black bird that can talk as plain as any body in the county.”

Written by Chuck Voellinger, Emily Fowler Library. chuck.voellinger@cityofdenton.com