Dallas, despite being the Buckle of the Bible Belt, has a rich tradition of gambling, gangsters, boozing and naked ladies.

All you people are here for the Super Bowl. I know what you're thinking. You call Dallas things like "the Buckle of the Bible Belt." Then you mock us for being hypocrites, because we have so many nekkid bars.

It's true. We do have a long history of trying to improve people's souls. And we do have a long history of nekkid bars. So what's your problem?

We show you a good time. Then we save your soul. What else do you want, a mint under your pillow?

As a matter of fact, Dallas has accomplished something over the years that people should respect—a tradition of good management principles applied to the infinite chaos of the human soul. Depending on how you look at it.

We have always had lots of churches. We have always had lots of naked dancing ladies. I suspect we have always had quite a few naked dancing men, too, but farther out in the woods.

Our bipolar, holy roller, tits-and-temperance history is recounted in a wonderful book, Big D, Triumphs and Troubles of an American Supercity in the 20th Century, by Darwin Payne. Payne tells how the very ground where the first little log cabin was planted in Dallas, down by the Trinity River, was later incorporated into the city's first official red-light district, called "The Reservation."

It was all well-managed. The Reservation was officially recognized in the new city charter of 1907, which included a number of special provisions designed to keep the area safe and secure. Imagine an entire neighborhood, neatly laid out, populated entirely by naked ladies.

An early visitor, Henry Bruere, who identified himself as a "writer-researcher," was shocked to find ladies at all hours of the day and night—all hours—"practically unclothed, always eagerly sometimes clamorously soliciting trade."

So the guy's in the official red-light district. He's there at all hours of the day and night. And he is shocked, shocked to find naked ladies all over the place.

That's what I'm talking about. In Dallas, we have always been all over the map about naked—wound up, shocked, turned on, conflicted, out there all hours of the day and night, researching the human soul. You could do worse.

There was in Dallas at that same time a very prominent preacher with the fabulous moniker of J.T. Upchurch, who crusaded to save the city's "fallen women." Preacher Upchurch even built a nice workhouse called the "Barachah Industrial Home for Girls." Apparently recruiting was tough. Can't imagine.

Upchurch published a gazette he called the "Purity Journal," in which he flailed the city mercilessly for its sins. He even revealed that one of the biggest whorehouse owners in Dallas was a pillar of his own church—Dr. W.W. Samuell, a man whose name is on parks and streets all over Dallas to this day. Apparently he made the most of his fortune off The Reservation.

Now tell me this town is simple.

The era of The Reservation in the early 20th century was mild compared to what came later. In the 20 years from the early 1940s through the early '60s, Dallas was kind of a cross between present-day Vegas and a Christian version of Tehran. And jumping.

At mid-century the churches in Dallas were stronger than ever; prostitution and gambling were strictly forbidden by law; and yet Dallas was also one of the most wide-open dens of boozing, gambling and nekkidness in the nation.

How did we do it all at the same time? Good management.

The great institutions of this city turned the term two-faced into an art form. Example: Even though horse race gambling was illegal in Dallas, The Dallas Morning News published a daily "sporting edition" in the afternoon for gamblers. But the News also published crusading stories in its morning editions exposing the existence of illegal gambling in the city.

In one such story, a reporter set out to see how many forms of illegal gambling he could take part in during a single day. In the morning, he placed an illegal bet on a horse with a bookie and played an illegal slot machine at a downtown cafe. Later he bought two 25-cent chances on an illegal "punch-board," a kind of mini-lottery based on a peg-board hanging over a cash register.

Then he played an illegal gambling pinball machine and bought a 25-cent ticket on a policy wheel—another form of illegal lottery sometimes called a numbers racket. That evening he was invited to an illegal craps game at a downtown hotel but was too "tired" to take part.

Readers, presumably, were shocked, shocked, to find gambling in Dallas!

See, that's what I mean. Even back then, you had to get up pretty early in the morning to get ahead of Dallas in the moral complexity field.

It wasn't always easy keeping vice compatible with piety. During the 1920s, Dallas ostensibly was one of the nation's most pro-Prohibition cities. But it was also a big drinking town.

In 1929 Collier's Magazine published a story about Dallas in which the author said, "Regardless of its registered attitude in favor of strict enforcement of dry laws, I know of no town more bold in its violation of them."

1
 
2
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
4 comments
TexMex
TexMex

Another well written article from Sir Shutze.

jenn
jenn

now if only people outside of dallas would read this...

TittyluvinBaptist
TittyluvinBaptist

BAZOOM!....no wait bosooms...aw hell..TITTIES!!!!!!! YEEE HAH! er....AMEN!

Perpetual Warfare
Perpetual Warfare

Wow you mean that there are different kinds of people living in Dallas and everyone isn't some stoned hippie libtard "journalist's" terror-fantasy of religious redneck stereotypes?

 
Dallas Concert Tickets
Loading...