"Looking east on Main Street from Linz Building. 1901"
Silver gelatin photograph by Charles E. Arnold.
Gift of Clara Routh.
View C. E. Arnold's Photos of Dallas at the turn of the century.
How much has Dallas changed since 1900? That's what Kenneth Foree wanted to know back in 1950 when he sat down with a copy of The Dallas Morning News from March, 1900.
Here is the text of the resulting article:
Undoubtedly, the Supermen of A.D. 2000 will look with curiosity at us rubber-dollar birds of 1950. Which gives license for 1950 to stare at the hard-money slowpokes of March, 1900.
McKinley was President then, the Spanish-American War was just over, a Dallas of 42,000 people had solved it water problem by buying 600 acres for Bachman Lake and spring was coming on.
Spring was evidenced in many ways. Said one classified advertisement in The News on March 18: "If the lady who robbed the pansy bed on Ross Avenue Friday night will call at the same place, the garter she lost will be returned and no questions asked."
The well dressed Dallasite that spring didn't need too much money. He didn't have too much, either. Sanger's offered "Men's fashionable clothing made from fine cassimeres, fancy worsteds and cheviots" from $15 to $18. For $3 he could get a Kenwick fedora or derby and an Alpine hat for $1.50.
At Burk & Company on the northeast corner of Main and Poydras, Manhattan shirts were $1.50, madras shirts 75¢. and M. Benedict at Elm and Poydras in a day only work shirts had attached collars offered Helmet Brand linen collars for 15¢ or $1.50 a dozen.
The owner of such a rig could get 5¢ cigars to match. In fact, most of the cigars then were of the 5¢ variety.
Boys' clothing was no nightmare either. "We are ready for the boys," said Kahn's. "Our Mrs. Jane Hopkins' suits at $2.50 to $5 beat the world." Laundered percale waists, ages 6 to 14, cost only 35¢. There were derbies and fedoras for boys, too, for any hatless person those days was nuts. And boys' hosiery, fast, black ribbed lisle, went at 19¢.
A woman's bills then didn't look like the war debt. In fact $8 to $15 would provide a spring outfit, for most made their own clothing as well as their daughters. As a result few dresses but many fabrics were offered.
"A profusion of dainty patterns" was presented by Sanger's. Printed Swiss and lawns were advertised at 4¢ a yard and it only required from four to five yards for a dress. Printed dimities in dots and stripes were 6 ½¢ a yard, ginghams 15¢ to 25¢, imported madras for waists 40¢, silk 75¢. Thus from 20¢ to $3 and a sewing machine the spring gown was done.
But no dress alone makes a spring outfit. So A. Harris offered ladies cotton ribbed vests for 12 ½¢ and fine lisle ones for 35¢. Gingham petticoats were 50¢, seersucker 75¢, black sateen $1.50 and a wasteful woman could pay $6.85 for a fine silk taffeta petticoat.
The term foundation garment hadn't been invented so Edward Dreyfus & Company, 318-320 Elm, offered the "Splendid Coutil corset, well boned, for 42¢," ladies drawers 18¢, white sheer lawn handkerchiefs with fancy lace corners 4¢.
At Sanger's "fine lightweight kid button shoes" cost $2.50; two to four strap slippers $1.65; fine quality, dropstitch lisle hose $29¢, and Goldsmith's offered "New, two-clasp, kid gloves 65¢."
Home furnishings were often plain and utilitarian. Instead of carpeting, at say only $9.95 a yard now, rolls of Chines and Japanese mattings, rarely seen these days, cost 10¢ to 25¢ a yard. T. J. Miller, 278 Elm, proprietor of China Hall, had 100-piece dinner sets for $7.85 and decorated 6-piece chamber sets at $1.85.
Shelter was in line. "A 7-room, modern cottage on macadamized street" was offered for $2,200. Thomas F. McEnnis advertised "McKinney Avenue, 60x195, 6 rooms, bath, stable, $3,500." Murphy & Bolanz had "Valuable lot, 50x100, Commerce between Ervay and Akard, $4,250." While B. F. Harvey, 203 Elm, offered "30 acres a mile from courthouse, near Maple Avenue, $20 an acre."
If you wanted to rent you could have a "6-room house, Liberty and Germania, nice yard, $16.50." But if you had rather board there was "Baumes House, 140 Bryan, (near Ervay) good board and nice rooms, $3 to $3.50 a week. Day board $2.50 a week."
Of course, you didn't make the salaries you do now. "Wanted fifteen good painters and six paper hangers, nine hours and $2.50 a day," advertised E. E. Thompson of Waco. "We pay $18 a week to men with rigs (horse and buggies) to introduce Egyptian Poultry Compounds," proclaimed a Kansas house. "Wanted: Several honest men to travel for large house. Salary $780 a year and expenses," advertised a Chicago concern.
There were such things then as domestics: "Wanted: Woman to do general housework, three in family; will pay $10 month. Address Postmaster, Coppell, Texas."
And another slant at luxuries in those days is given by this: "Graphophone and ninety records rented for private entertainments and parties. Terms reasonable."
But if you didn't earn enough money to rent or own such luxuries at least you didn't have to part with so much of your earnings. There was no income tax; it wouldn't come for thirteen years. Federal levies were principally on liquor, tobacco and imports and the average tax per person was $12.50 a year against the $1,300 hidden and apparent paid now by the average family.
You Could Outfit a Woman for $15 by Kenneth Foree.
Gift of Kenneth Foree.
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