In The Weeds 8.16.17: We’re Hungry!

We have four old menus for local businesses here in the Special Collections Dept at the Emily Fowler Library: The Flying Tomato, The Duck Inn and Jim’s Diner. 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. Finally, the Jim’s menu is maybe from the early ’90’s? We would love to hear from anyone who knows who worked at any of these establishments. Contact us at the email below.

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. Jim’s Diner existed at 110 Fry Street from 1980 to approximately 1997 and was the sight of many a performance and poetry reading from some folks you may have heard of like Brave Combo, Little Jack Melody, and Norah Jones.

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

Two Tomato menus, donated by Melinda Rule:

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

Finally, the piece de resistance: a hand drawn menu from the late and much lamented Jim’s Diner at 110 Fry Street followed by a Denton Record-Chronicle photo, both courtesy of Martin Iles:

JimsMenu

JimsDRC

Many thanks to Melinda Rule, Martin Iles, and Alec Williams for their contributions.

(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!

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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.

 

 

 

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.

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

 

In The Weeds 2.11.16 Ray Peterson

This might be a good subject for Denton-centric Trivia Night at a local pub. While doing research in the Denton Record-Chronicle about someone completely unrelated, I happened upon this front page story from 1961. By that time, Ray Peterson had several hits on the pop music charts including two in the Top 10 and was heading home to his family and birthplace in Denton for a belated Christmas reunion. He was born here on April 23, 1939 but apparently didn’t spend very much time in town, growing up in San Antonio. He had contracted polio as a child and, during his stay in the hospital in The Alamo City, sang for his fellow patients and thus began his musical career. The article states that his family lived on Panhandle Street and had recently moved back to his mother’s native Denton. By that time, however, he was performing at the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas and touring the country.

Here he is looking rather Bobby Darin-ish:

RayPete

So, the question is, why isn’t he better known in town? It’s true he really never lived here other than maybe his first couple years but, in that way, he resembles Sly Stone. Could it be the lack of local press? Searching the DR-C, I only find the article above and some Top 10 lists from the early 1960s mentioning him. Sly Stone went on to greater fame so maybe that prompted us to call him our own when he really barely is, as well.

One of his greatest hits was a morbid, schmalzy thing called “Tell Laura I Love Her” which recounts a doomed teenage romance involving stock car racing (really) and a $1000.00 prize. Here it is. There was quite a market for this genre of songs in the late-50s, early ’60s known as “teenage tragedy songs”, “death discs”, and my personal favorite,“splatter platters”. Elvis Presley covered one of his songs in the late 1960s, The Wonder of You, doing Ray the courtesy of asking him in advance if that would be OK. One thing no one could ever say about The King was that he wasn’t a gentleman. Elvis probably didn’t have to do this because Ray didn’t write the song nor did he likely own the rights to it but  professional courtesy was extended and they became friends.

Mr. Peterson eventually became a Baptist minister in the 1970s while also appearing on the oldies circuit. He was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and died in Memphis in 2005.

Written by Chuck Voellinger, Emily Fowler Library.

 

 

 

In The Weeds 12.9.15: Elzjs Rocks!

I decided to search for Elvis Presley in the 1940 U.S. Census in Ancestry.com and discovered something bizarre in how they indexed it. Look at the following table taken from that webpage for his line on the census page:

Name Elzjs Pressley
Age 5
Estimated Birth Year January 8, 1935
Gender Male
Race White
Birthplace Mississippi
Marital Status Single
Relation to Head of House Son
Home in 1940 Lee, Mississippi
Inferred Residence in 1935 Rural, Lee
Residence in 1935 Rural Lee
Resident on farm in 1935 Yes
Sheet Number 21B
Attended School or College No
Highest Grade Completed None
Weeks Worked in 1939 48
Income 360
Income Other Sources No

 

Here is the actual page from the census:

Eljzs1940

 

If you’ll notice, the census taker misspelled the surname, Presley, as “Pressley” and whoever indexed Elvis himself thought that “Elzjs” was a possibility. In Mississippi in 1940. When you type in “Elvis Presley”, your search results bring up the misspelling but, as long as you know the names of his parents or birthdate, you can infer that its him.

Ths point of this is to show how common it is for indexing and misspellings to be mistaken in census records. Even The King suffers the indignity! As co-worker Bill Smith mentioned to me, maybe it’s the first instance of “Rock and Roll Respellings” ie: “Beatles” for beetles, “Led” for lead, “Ratt” for rat, etc.

published by Chuck Voellinger

At The Cut

I’ve lived in Denton for about five years. Music was my original reason for moving to Denton. Don Henley, Nora Jones, Roy Orbison and Meat Loaf have roamed University of North Texas or North Texas State University’s (as you may know it) hallways at one time or another. Funk legend Sly Stone was born in Denton and UNT’s one a clock lab band has won several Grammys. Needless to say this environment harvests an abundance of creative energy.

In my late teens I traveled from Dallas to Denton more times than I can count to see some of my favorite bands. One of the places that housed such acts was Hailey’s club. Last week owner of Hailey’s, Jennifer Gibbs, announced its closing its doors at the end of the year and open up a non-music related venture.

Vic Chesnutt was one of many that graced the Hailey’s stage. Chesnutt was a quadriplegic gifted with an uncanny ability to craft songs with incredible depth despite being able to play a very limited number of chords. Although not a house hold name you may have seen Chesnutt in Billy Bob Thornton’s Sling Blade.

Recently a memoir commemorating Chesnutt was published its entitled “Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving up Vic Chesnutt” it chronicles Chesnutt through highs and lows, written by one of his touring band members and close friend Kristin Hersh. Seeing this book in the library I naturally gravitated towards it and was pleasantly surprised of how insightful it was at grasping the characteristics of a man dealing with struggles mentally and physically. Although unknown to most Chesnutt was an influence to many singers and songwriters. In 2006 NPR dubbed Chesnutt as one of the top ten greatest living songwriters alongside artists like Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen.

Below are a few items available for check out at the Denton Public Library by or about Vic Chesnutt including the book mentioned above and a CD entitled “At the Cut”.

VicChesnutt1

VicChesnutt2

This video was recorded at Hailey’s and was the second to last live performance by Chesnutt before his death in 2009.

https://youtu.be/DryKoGfQg74

Abdon Gonzalez
Library Assistant- Public Services
Emily Fowler Public Library