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Photo of Oak Cliff Streetcar Stop, Addison & Jefferson, 1946

Posted by Paula B. 
Photo of Oak Cliff Streetcar Stop, Addison & Jefferson, 1946
October 30, 2014 01:36PM
Came across this FANTASTIC image from 1946 of people in Oak Cliff waiting on a streetcar that has just crossed the Trinity River. The stop is at Addison & E. Jefferson, with the Dallas skyline in the background. (It looks like the image is too big to fit all of it here -- click link for full image and a couple of magnified details.) If I made any errors in the post, please let me know! The link to my post at Flashback Dallas is here: [flashbackdallas.com]

Re: Photo of Oak Cliff Streetcar Stop, Addison & Jefferson, 1946
October 30, 2014 02:21PM
Paula, thanks so much for posting this. I wasn't around Oak Cliff in 1946, and would not remember it if I had been. However, the location and description still evokes memories of my boyhood home a few years later. You mentioned Burnett Field as being just outside the frame limits. I spent many a childhood evening at that old ball park. And I rode the Jefferson line street car on the last day it ran, in 1955 or 1956. I always enjoyed the slight tingle of fear I experienced on the trestle over the river, as one could not see the trestle itself from the car window. One had the feeling of being suspended with no support when looking out the window.

Dave McNeely
Re: Photo of Oak Cliff Streetcar Stop, Addison & Jefferson, 1946
October 30, 2014 03:28PM
Thanks, Dave. I was thinking about the fear I would probably have felt riding across the Trinity when looking at other photos of that trestle. I feel I missed so much by growing up after the time of streetcars!
Re: Photo of Oak Cliff Streetcar Stop, Addison & Jefferson, 1946
October 30, 2014 04:53PM
Thanks for posting this Paula B, it brings back many memories of ttaking the street car to Burnett Field with my late brother in the 50s.
Re: Photo of Oak Cliff Streetcar Stop, Addison & Jefferson, 1946
October 30, 2014 05:55PM
That concrete street sign pole brings back memories.
I'd forgotten about them.
Re: Photo of Oak Cliff Streetcar Stop, Addison & Jefferson, 1946
October 30, 2014 05:56PM
Speaking of trestle fear, I am still amazed at the old concrete streetcar trestle just North of Jefferson, and West of Cockrell Hill Road. I can't imagine riding a streetcar on this trestle as it soars above a railroad spur line. I wonder how many years this was in operation.
Re: Photo of Oak Cliff Streetcar Stop, Addison & Jefferson, 1946
October 30, 2014 06:07PM
Here's a photo (pic #2) that looks like it was taken from the same location. The poles in the background (right of center) seem to line up in the same orientation, and the pole near the center looks like it's tilted in the same direction in both pics:

Pic #1
Pic #2

[www.flickr.com]



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/30/2014 06:34PM by WStewart.
Re: Photo of Oak Cliff Streetcar Stop, Addison & Jefferson, 1946
October 30, 2014 07:10PM
That looks like the same spot to me, WStewart -- thanks!
Re: Photo of Oak Cliff Streetcar Stop, Addison & Jefferson, 1946
October 30, 2014 07:14PM
When I was in grade school we would take one of the Jefferson Streetcars (did not matter which) and transfer to the Seventh St line here on our way to Lake Cliff Swimming Pool. Oak Cliff was segregated back then so I am curious where the black folks in this picture would have been going.

Wayne
Re: Photo of Oak Cliff Streetcar Stop, Addison & Jefferson, 1946
October 30, 2014 07:23PM
Wayne a person commented elsewhere: "My dad grew up near the end of the Jefferson line. He and his brother would hang around, and sometimes the conductor would pay them to switch the 'white' seat signs to 'colored' when the streetcar changed directions."
Re: Photo of Oak Cliff Streetcar Stop, Addison & Jefferson, 1946
October 30, 2014 08:14PM
Wayne Pritchett Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> When I was in grade school we would take one of
> the Jefferson Streetcars (did not matter which)
> and transfer to the Seventh St line here on our
> way to Lake Cliff Swimming Pool. Oak Cliff was
> segregated back then so I am curious where the
> black folks in this picture would have been going.
>
>
> Wayne

To work, most likely. Most were only allowed menial work, but worked nonetheless. Men worked as porters and doormen, operated shoe shine stands in barbershops (usually performed janitorial duties as well), worked as gardeners in better parts of town like Kessler Park and Stephens Park, cooked in restaurants. Women worked as maids, nannies, housekeepers. Of course, African Americans had higher level work in African American districts, but these people appear to be catching the west bound Jefferson car.

Thankfully, the days when the color of a person's skin determined his station in life are disappearing, and becoming president can be most children's dream.

Dave McNeely



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/30/2014 08:16PM by old man from dallas.
Re: Photo of Oak Cliff Streetcar Stop, Addison & Jefferson, 1946
October 30, 2014 11:05PM
They were catching the Seventh Street Car. The man is carrying a child.
Re: Photo of Oak Cliff Streetcar Stop, Addison & Jefferson, 1946
October 30, 2014 11:25PM
This photo was taken on a Saturday (Feb. 2, 1946). I would assume that the African-American family and/or friends were going out -- they are dressed up. As Wayne said, one of the men is holding a little boy. They're not going to work.

Wayne -- I misread what you wrote and thought you were saying the CARS were segregated. What do you mean "Oak Cliff was segregated"?

Did anyone here ever go into Helen's Sandwich Shop seen in this photo?
Re: Photo of Oak Cliff Streetcar Stop, Addison & Jefferson, 1946
October 31, 2014 08:52AM
Wayne Pritchett Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> They were catching the Seventh Street Car. The man
> is carrying a child.

Wayne, how can you tell from the photo that the people were waiting for the Seventh Street car? My eyes are not good enough to read the wording to tell that. I thought they were waiting for the Jefferson car. Did it not run on that track? I thought it did, but it is certainly possible that it did not, because I have certainly slept a few times since riding the cars in in the mid-fifties.

Added in edit: I apologize. I looked at the photo on Paula's blog again, and when the large version is selected, the car clearly identifies itself as being the Seventh Street car. When I wrote the above, I had looked at that enlarged photo, but the name of the car just did not register. I guess that comes with having old memories, and then being nearly 70 yoa when looking at the photo the first time around. edit ends.

I'm not Wayne, but I think I know what he meant by saying that Oak Cliff was segregated. African-Americans and European- Americans lived in different neighborhoods. I wasn't there in 1946, but by 1955 the area around Jefferson and Addison near Burnett Field may have been one of the few neighborhoods that was mixed, a situation that continued west for a bit. It was also industrial, as Paula referenced by mentioning Oak Farms Dairy plant.

Dave McNeely



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/31/2014 09:07AM by old man from dallas.
Re: Photo of Oak Cliff Streetcar Stop, Addison & Jefferson, 1946
October 31, 2014 12:49PM
The trolley tracks actually split right at that location and the Jefferson Line can be seen at far right on the other side of the row of short posts.

The 7th Street Line went due west on Colorado, passing Lake Cliff (but that would have been in walking distance) then south on Bishop and west again on 7th passing within a couple of blocks of Kidd Springs. There was also a small Negro community on the north side of Kidd Springs Park; descendants of the Overton families who had originally owned the land had bequeathed some to their former slaves. The trolley line ended at Edgefield and Kings Highway but there were connecting bus lines continuing north and west and several larger Negro communities located north of the Texas and Pacific RR and extending west to the West Dallas Housing Project between Hampton and Westmoreland. Dallas had several designated "Negro Parks" scattered about the city but I do not know if segregation was enforced at the others. Being February and the group well dressed and wearing coats seems likely visiting or possibly an outing at one of the parks.

The city of Dallas actually mapped the concentrations of "minority housing" in 1945. Old Oak Cliff, which was considered to be everything east of the Jefferson Line, had been largely populated by Negros since around 1890 with the founding of Sunshine Elizabeth Chapel then other churches. It developed into a self sufficient community, with stores, clinics, lodge halls and even a movie theater. The city allotted a small parcel designated "Negro Play Park" which is now Eloise Lundy Park. A group of Negro businessmen built a stadium where Negro League Baseball teams played and also hosted the "White" Leagues when Gardner Park burned until Steer Stadium (later named Rebel, then Burnett) was completed. Moore Park was built farther south in the 1930s and the former bottom land of Old Oak Cliff just west of the new levee was developed into what could be best described as "slum housing" by non-resident, wealthy oilmen looking for a quick return investments. I believe that area was finally annexed by Dallas in 1945 and indoor plumbing and paved streets were mandated.

I spent some time walking that area several year ago researching the old parks. Many residents then had lived there for generations and some more recent having be displaced by development in other traditional Negro areas. There was a strong sense of community, centered around the churches, but all the stores had long since closed and a number of homes abandoned and fallen into decay. Construction of I-35 / Love Freeway in the 1960s had taken a large slice of the more desirable housing and the several packing plants and mills along the Santa Fe RR and Clarendon closed. More recently developers have been buying up entire blocks and leveling what remains.

M C



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/31/2014 04:00PM by M C Toyer.
Re: Photo of Oak Cliff Streetcar Stop, Addison & Jefferson, 1946
October 31, 2014 03:23PM
Thanks, Dave and M.C.

I know this must sound hopelessly uninformed, but were black men and women not allowed to get off a streetcar or bus in a non-black neighborhood? Was walking along the street prohibited by law? I'm not a kid, but I didn't live through this time, and it's hard for me to fathom these kinds of ridiculouls restrictions.
Re: Photo of Oak Cliff Streetcar Stop, Addison & Jefferson, 1946
October 31, 2014 04:37PM
Paula B. Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Thanks, Dave and M.C.
>
> I know this must sound hopelessly uninformed, but
> were black men and women not allowed to get off a
> streetcar or bus in a non-black neighborhood? Was
> walking along the street prohibited by law? I'm
> not a kid, but I didn't live through this time,
> and it's hard for me to fathom these kinds of
> ridiculouls restrictions.

Hi Paula,

Neither disembarking a bus or streetcar, nor walking in a non-Black neighborhood were illegal, so far as I know. In fact, the buses and streetcars were the main means of transportation for many African-Americans and many European Americans as well during this time. Without the streetcars and buses, most of the folks in North Dallas, Highland Park, University Park and other better off neighborhoods would have been without maids, housekeepers, and gardeners, and those folks were almost universally African American.

Several members of this Phorum who have identified themselves as not being African Americans have related that their families did not own a car well into the 1950s or even beyond. Most families that did own a car had one family car, usually used by the man of the house for work transportation.

That being said, there were places where it was risky for African-Americans to be on the street walking. Residents, and perhaps the police officers who might be called, would just assume that they were up to no good, especially young men. Or maybe they just didn't want them there. The police who responded to the calls would query the person or persons, and perhaps give them a ride to somewhere else.

Again, that being said, Black and White mixed in many contexts in Dallas. My father worked in the produce business for several years in the fifties up until about 1960 when his health dictated that he cease that line of work. He delivered to grocery stores, operated retail stands, and sometimes drove working class and poor neighborhoods in a pickup truck, selling produce along the streets. He did so in Oak Cliff, West Dallas, and East Dallas. Many of the stores where he delivered were patronized by both Black and White, and his retail customers included both. He occasionally had African American employees. In West Dallas particularly, Black and White frequented many of the same retail establishments. My parents always taught us that "God made all people, and they're all the same to Him." My older sister was chastised by her teacher at school for repeating that. That was not in Dallas, but in Monahans, Texas, out in the far western part of the state.

When my mother operated a diner in Pyote, Texas in the forties and early fifties, Black folks traveling U.S. 80 knew they could get a sit down restaurant meal at her place. However, she many years later related to me something I didn't know: The local people sort of went along with her eccentricity in this matter because of the large African American population at the local Air Force base in Pyote. Much of her trade came from the base. The local folks would not have put up with that on down the road in Monahans or Wicket, and there were many who would not eat at her place as it was. She was sometimes treated abusively by some locals because she served African Americans.

Black children had to attend separate schools, long after Brown vs. Board of Education. I remember seing public restrooms in Dallas that were labeled "Ladies," "Gentlemen," and "Colored." In other establishments, Black folks simply knew better than to expect to find an accomodation.

I think I have related this before. When I was in junior high school, I worked summers at Red Heart Watermelon Garden. Mr. Watson (I never knew his first name) owned the establishment, where we served sliced watermelon at tables under large elm trees at the corner of Ross Avenue and Greenville Avenue (I think that Greenville Avenue's southern terminus was at that corner). Mr. Watson was a kind man, who helped a number of young folks get by in the world by providing them jobs. None of those young people were either African American or female. Besides the watermelon garden, Mr. Watson also provided watermelons to retail establishments like restaurants and grocers.

One slow evening at the watermelon garden, a dapper appearing African American man approached the serving counter, where the young waiters picked up watermelon slices for their tables. He asked if he could buy a slice of watermelon. I never thought a moment of not asking the same question I always did of a customer who walked up in that way: "Sir, would you like to eat it here, or take it to go?" He touched my arm very lightly, and said almost under his breath, "Be careful, son." More loudly, he said for Mr. Watson, who manned the counter, to hear, "Sir, can you wrap that a little extra thick, I'm walking and riding the bus, and I hope it won't drip."

After he paid and left, I got the only ass chewing Mr. Watson ever dispensed my way, and it was intense.

Dave McNeely



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/31/2014 04:49PM by old man from dallas.
Re: Photo of Oak Cliff Streetcar Stop, Addison & Jefferson, 1946
November 01, 2014 09:40AM
i did not move to dallas until 1955,and it apears tio me that dalllas gave up on the street cars a tad early,the dart rail has brought us almost full circle
Re: Photo of Oak Cliff Streetcar Stop, Addison & Jefferson, 1946
November 01, 2014 10:01AM
I remember when Blacks had to sit in the back of the buses and streetcars.
There were signs posted threatening a fine if they didn't. The Black section constituted about 1/3 of the bus.
I don't know about buses that ran primarily in the Black part of town.
Re: Photo of Oak Cliff Streetcar Stop, Addison & Jefferson, 1946
November 01, 2014 10:45AM
BillB Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I remember when Blacks had to sit in the back of
> the buses and streetcars.
> There were signs posted threatening a fine if they
> didn't. The Black section constituted about 1/3 of
> the bus.
> I don't know about buses that ran primarily in the
> Black part of town.

I've slept since then, but iirc, there were movable markers that delineated a line in front of which African-Americans were not supposed to sit. I also remember an acquaintance of my family, a woman who worked downtown and lived in the housing project in West Dallas, complaining that African Americans riding the bus that served that area sitting just anywhere in the bus, and no one doing anything about it. That would have been probably in 1957. My father asked her if she sat wherever she wanted to in the bus, and she replied that she did, but that some d_mned n_ would be apt to sit down beside her. He suggested that he didn't want her to sit in his car again, but that he would not put her out in the street on that trip. He was taking her to a doctor's appointment at the county clinic at the old Parkland Hospital on Maple street. She would need to get someone else to take her next time, though.

I also remember riding the bus to Fair Park (Second Avenue bus, I think), and the riders being mostly African Americans, and sitting throughout the bus. Had they not, there would have been no place for them. That would have been about 1960 I believe. I may have been going to Dallas Texans football games. Remember the Dallas Texans? Nobody much went to their games, but I did. A ticket cost a dollar, but one could usually get a free one through one promotion or another. The same thing applied to Dallas Cowboy games at that time, iirc.

This is a depressing discussion, to remember how badly folks were treated in Dallas back in the day. Of course, it was not just Dallas, and it wasn't just the South and Texas. It is depressing, nevertheless.

Dave McNeely
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