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Pour a Tall Drink and Read All About Those Who Broke Dallas's News in Bert Shipp's New Book

Brett Shipp was among those who attended Jerry Haynes's funeral Saturday afternoon. The WFAA newsman was accompanied by his father, Bert, who was a familiar face on local television long before his son stepped out of his shadow. Bert and Jerry went way back -- they were among the first to break the news on November 22, 1963, that John Kennedy had been killed in Dealey Plaza. That's but one of dozens of moments recounted in Bert's new book, which just arrived in the mail: Details at 10: Behind the Headlines of Texas Television History.

I'll bother Mr. Shipp about it later, after I've had a chance to read the entire book. But an early-afternoon skim of its 158 pages suggests it's essential -- not just as a history of the city's news organizations durng its Pearl-and-Pall Mall days (Shipp had been at the Dallas Times Herald before jumping to TV), but as an unflinching history of modern-day Dallas. No matter the size of the story -- a president's assassination, protests over the segregated lunch counter at H.L. Green's, a traffic accident downtown, a one-on-Fab Four with the Beatles -- Shipp renders footnotes into must-reads. Take this introduction, for instance, from the frigid Christmas story about a charitable West Dallas minister named Brother Bill Harrod:

A deep depression seeped into my soul as I urged my cold-natured news unit across the unsightly Trinity River. The big, dirty ditch is part of what separates Dallas's "haves" from "have-nots." A misnamed Continental Boulevard merges into an unkempt Singleton Boulevard on the west side of the aging bridge. I had always thought that the grandiose name of "boulevard" should be applied to more affluent streets, not ugly thoroughfares running through pickets of poverty that empty into slums.

Elsewhere, he writes about his run-ins with Dallas's finest, his tenure at WBAP, covering county and city politics and Oak Cliff shootings. And, I swear, every chapter involves somebody pouring a drink. The good ol' days.


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