Dream Big, They Said

Fred's Lounge, Mamou, LA, 1977
Fred’s Lounge, Mamou, LA, 1977

Here it is in a nutshell: the reality of 1:30am bar life.  Verbena sees the 2:00am last call on the horizon.  Semisonic will play “Closing Time,” and the jukebox will stop, the lights will come up, and the illusion will shatter.  But in this brief moment, with Lloyd’s arm around her, his warm bourbony breath on her cheeks, and fiery hot nuts so accessible and so amazingly affordable, life is good.

This is one of the most telling portraits from Henry Horenstein’s book HonkyTonk, a book of fascinating black and white portraits he took mostly from the country and western scene in the 1970s.  It’s hard to narrow a brief selection down, but there are sites that showcase many of them, such as http://clampart.com/2012/07/honky-tonk-portraits-of-country-music-2/#/13.  However, I prefer to leaf through the book itself and create my own back stories.

Is Earl waxing nostalgic for his salad days, missing the boys in his high school rockabilly band, before the tattoos and the Kool habit?  Before Arlene cheated with Vernon, his supposed best friend, and then a twister took Vernon to his maker, and isn’t that sweet justice?

Hillbilly Ranch, Boston, MA, 1972
Hillbilly Ranch, Boston, MA, 1972

Lookin’ for love in all the right places.

Tootsies Orchid Lounge, Nashville, TN 1975
Tootsies Orchid Lounge, Nashville, TN 1975

Last call indeed.

Tootsies Orchid Lounge, Nashville, TN  1974
Tootsies Orchid Lounge, Nashville, TN 1974

Hey, Ladies


The ladies of DPS knew how to live large near the tail end of The Great Depression.  And boy howdy, could they tilt a hat just so!

As the war got into full swing, women assumed roles formerly filled by men, and literally got their hands dirty.


But women with administrative duties were not left idle; check out the STACKS of driver license applications behind Cicely and Mrs. Miller.


After the war ended, applications continued to pour in.


Meanwhile, lucky teens were trying their hands at the new Aetna Steerometer, which simulated driving conditions.


Student drivers got to take a spin in the snazzy Studebaker training car.  Hold on to your boater straw hats, gents!  Maybe they’re going to pick up the fourth member of their barbershop quartet?


As the years rolled by, DPS workers changed with the times, as seen by the lovely hairdos of Ms. Davis and Ms. Deeds, bookending a stern bespectacled Gene Kelly.


But secretary Tom was not about to be upstaged.

031She knew how to stay abreast of current trends.


Some women were forced to wear uniforms, so they had to assert their individuality with enormous glasses.  Three of these people are actually women.

034But let’s go out on a high note, with the cheery Loveboat-cruise director smile of Ms. Stade and the blonde wings of love about to give Ms. Steele lift-off into space.


And with that, we close the chapter on DPS.  Remember that it’s the end of May, if you’re inspection sticker is almost due.  You wouldn’t want to get ticketed.

Don’t Mess With DPS


Today’s post is Part II in the ongoing bliss that is discovering the Dept of Public Safety’s pictorial heritage.  Pictured above is a badass Texas Ranger in an armored vehicle.  As I lack a penis, I have no desire to commandeer said vehicle or even go near it.  I will speak for most ladies who have no desire to appropriate or operate any sort of tankylooking thing.  But those of you who do might want to take a little spin in it.

Police officers have a noble history of enforcing the law, which often means sucking the fun out of your good times.  I would have let this guy go, since his car is so boss, but they have quotas to fill.


And don’t try to outrun them; they will go all Ponch and Jon on your bippy.


The Texas Rangers are part of a major division within the Texas DPS, who investigate serious crimes.  They also will suck the wind out of a criminal’s sails.  Cross the border to nasty swampland-subpar-highway-system Louisiana if you want to play craps; there’s no gambling in Texas.


And weed is still illegal, too–no matter what the dreadheaded, tiedyed-shirt-wearing potheads would have you believe.  I don’t have glaucoma nor a criminal history, so I don’t get up close with Mary Jane, but I didn’t think it looked so much like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.


And don’t think they’ll let you off with a warning.  This Amish guy just galloped in from Pennsylvania, and he is exhausted, so he won’t think twice about putting a bullet in your gut.    And he’s not the only one.


When Sergeant Guthrie smells something fishy, it is on.  It is SO on.


And Sergeant Hall?  Some say he’s certifiably insane, a bonafide 5150.  I heard he picks possums off the highway, and eats them snout and all.  Don’t sass him.  He may take you to a Mexican prison if he’s feeling ornery.  And that’s just for jaywalking.


And don’t let Officer Lowery fool you. Word on the street is he used to be the lethal injectioner at Huntsville.  He thought sterilizing needles was a waste of time.  So do I, for that matter.


Now look, they’re not all gruff.  Officers Turner & Powell run the night shift, so that might be the perfect time to rob a 7-11.  Just saying.


But you won’t run forever.  Justice will have its day.  They will see to it.  Once information is sent from the transceiver, all hope is gone.


And trust me, you do NOT want them sicking Investigator Padgett on your ass.  He’s a superhero, and I don’t mean his demon eyes.  His power is oft compared to that of Spiderman, only his wide lapel shoots out disco balls filled with elephant tranquilizer.  You don’t want to wake up from that sleep, ripe for interrogation.


Am I right or Amarillo?

You feelin' lucky, Punk?
You feelin’ lucky, Punk?

(All of the above is purely for humorous purposes and in no way meant to disrespect any officer of the law.  So please don’t sic Padgett on me…)

License & Registration Please


Memorial Day seems as fitting a day as ever to begin our weeklong (we’ll see about that) Texas Dept of Public Safety pictorial history retrospective, seeing as many officers lost their lives in the line of duty.  However, today’s focus is not on lost life, but on the superbadassness of the department from 1935-1980.  I realize this seems hyperspecialized, but these pics are a treasure trove of early law enforcement, as well as insight into the long-gone TWENTIETH CENTURY.  You will witness early outdated, inefficient ways of doing things, like searching for fingerprints by hand and how to confirm if someone is a doublecrossing liar.


See how people used to communicate with typing thingies and wirey boxes.



Experience the communications hub, the leader in advanced technology.


You will meet important characters, like Pop and Paul!



Shoot the breeze with Viola and Barbara, both fashioned from the hands of Jim Henson!


And FYI, Mr. Curb is not about to take any crap from you today.


So join me as we take a long stroll through the halls of public safety.  Drive safely!

Teen Dreamy

I didn’t watch The Hardy Boys, but I listened to my Shaun Cassidy Born Late album until the vinyl wore thin.  And “Teen Dream” was my favorite song.  He sang about a “generation younger than rock ‘n’ roll,” which meant a generation born after 1955, which seemed HELLA old, since that was like my parent’s age.  Ick.  These were the people still weeping about Elvis falling dead on his toilet a few months ago.  Why couldn’t they just listen to all of Shaun’s awesome songs and cheer up?  Even a first grader could see that clearly.

I was going to marry Shaun Cassidy.  That’s all there was to it.  When you’re pre-pubescent, it’s the pretty boys, the non-threatening (read: effeminate) ones that do you in.  And Shaun had everything; big doe eyes, smooth, feathered hair (not altogether unlike the hair of my best friend, who was a female), and a lovely vocal range, enabling him to hit the Teen Dream lyric “hurri-CANE” with skill.  And you just know that if you were dating, and there was a misunderstanding, he would look into your eyes and hold your hands and you would discuss your feelings and never let the sun go down on your anger.  Shaun Cassidy would never go all Chris Brown on you.

And if that wasn’t enough, watch how he brings his elbow down all butch at the end of the song.  Work that stage, Hardy Boy!

Bridging The Generation Gap


I had never seen this ad before today, and I had to do a doubletake.  I saw the Paul Masson spokesman with a younger woman at his shoulder, and the words “generation gap,” and I cringed.  Are they getting drunk together?  Doesn’t he already get drunk off wine; is liquor even necessary at this point?  Oh, wait, he’s dead.  Did he die from drinking?  Was the point to show that old coots could pick up younger Janis Joplin wannabes by buying them a glass of smooth, light, mellow whiskey?  Ewwww.

So many thoughts ran through my head of this dirty old man and this disillusioned woman who was clearly too young to be sipping what old bankers drink in their dens, while wearing robes and smoking pipes.  But then I read the ad.  It’s his daughter.  His daughter with Rita Hayworth.  And she’s dead, too.  Technically, all three of them are dead.

MORE thoughts ran through my head.  Like the fact that Rita Hayworth, although Alzheimer’s-ravaged at the end, was once sane and gorgeous, so why ON EARTH would she ever consent to lie down beneath Orson Welles?  I had to investigate.

As it happened, he wooed her in his post-Citizen Kane, pre-morbidly obese era (he topped out just under 400 lbs or 180 kg).  Both had divorced prior spouses in 1942, and were ready to “walk the plank” again the following year.


Wasn’t baby Rebecca a cutie?


He does appear somewhat deranged in this pic:


The servant boy in the pic seems to rather enjoy these two Hollywood heavyweights simulating a cocktail-infused bullfight (she as bullfighter; he as bull) smack dab in the middle of the nursery.  Or is she simply folding a blanket, and he dancing a merry jig?  Either way, the union didn’t last long, due to alleged infidelities.  In 1948 Hayworth filed for divorce, saying, “I can’t take his genius any more.”  Apparently, alcohol + crazy + cheating + a touch of ego = recipe for disaster.

But don’t worry; they both married again.  And again.  And again.  However, five hours before his death, Welles paid Hayworth a compliment, telling Merv Griffin that he was “lucky enough to have been with her longer than any of the other men in her life.”   I guess they were pretty cute together, if only for a season.


1972: Year Of The Messed-Up World

From Pam to Renee in their 1972 yearbook:


Actually, Renee, you may not have known it at the time, but it was gonna get a whole lot more messed-up.  Reference the 2013 gas prices.  What do you think Wayne Stevens would think about that?  He was pumping gas for a quarter a gallon.  A QUARTER PER GALLON!!!!!  Super duper indeed.

021But I get it.  It was high school.  Life wasn’t peachy keen.  Clearly, you had it in for Miss Toni.


I have decades upon decades of yearbooks, but there is nary a HINT of profanity in any year until 1972, when the world went to hell.  Miss Toni must have liked one of the numerous boys whose name you underlined in red.  Was it Steve?  It was Steve, wasn’t it?  This is all so very Marsha, Marsha, Marsha.


Big deal.  Take a chance on Leslie.  His hair swoops majestically like an eagle over a canyon.  Plus, he has that Taylor Lautner hammerhead shark forehead that the tweens like so much.

And hey, if you’re still bitter, shove her in a fridge, like your peers did to poor Vickie.  I think we finally found a job for the Maytag repairman.


Gracious, Renee!  What was your problem?  I just found another girl whom you evidently perceived as the dark lord, horns and all.


Honestly, I’m more concerned with Sandy, who seems to be melting right off the paper.

You just need to chill out in a new Pinto, car of the future.


Or take some barbiturates–I know they sold them then.  Ask these two classmates.  They should know where to score some.


Or hang out with the annual staffers; they know how to have fun.  Buy the world a Coke and keep it company.  And rock that tie, girl.

031And hey, if that doesn’t work, you can always pledge Zeta Phi.


Yucca Part Deux

012All hail Nikki Hendricks, the North Texas 1946 Football Queen.  Watch her ride “in royal splendor.”  I think we both know which one is Nikki and which one wishes she were Nikki.

013And here is a rare shot of Tina Fey’s grandmother, Dude Neville McCloud.  That’s what it says, folks.  Click to enlarge if you don’t believe.

news serviceNote the publicity staff “during a busy hour.”  Mercy, how bustling.  The supervisor checks for typing errors while one girl evidently knits and glares.


Below is the W.R.A. tumbling team.  One of the support gals in the middle appears to have sprained her eye.

014Hey, remember Time & Temperature?


Oh, how I wish I could have been a Trojan’s date to the Sadie Hawkins Dance.  The one with the eyebrows, sitting on the haystack.

016Let’s end with this portrait of the Baptist Student Union Council.


Just take a moment to really absorb the Doublemint Twins in the front row,  Yes, F. Day and J. Day.  Perhaps it was in honor of D-Day and VJ-Day?   You can see the disdain all over F. Day’s face.  But J. Day.  Oh, J. Day.  She looks like she smelled a fart.

Now look to J. Day’s left.  Another set of twins!  Dang, Baptists!  Way to be fruitful and multiply.  Janel and Janet Barr.  I know, super creative, right?  You just KNOW people rhymed her name with “channel” instead of the exoticish J’Nelle. That’s why Janel is fidgeting with her fingers. In the twin crapshoot, she got the bad name.   And Janet is so over this.  She threw off her jacket in a fit of rage only moments before the shoot.  She’s all Oh, yes, please let me dress in identical clothing like those damn Day hussies.  Like we’re toddlers.  As if.  Can’t people SEE we’re fraternal?  Look at her.  I bet she wasn’t Baptist for long.

The 1947 Yucca, Part I

Today we’re going back to 1947, to a post-war era at North Texas State University, when women looked like the Andrews Sisters and frat boys took preventative measures against osteoporosis.



I love the pretty print dresses on these ladies.


Even just one row from the yearbook can reveal a lot.


Let’s hope for his sake, that “Dwyane” was misspelled.  But check out his two-tiered locks.  And what about John’s tousled look?  Sexy.  I’m certain he knows his way around a tractor. And Fred’s sharp threads are pretty snappy.  I’m afraid these ladies’ names have gone by the wayside.  Any preschools catering to Margie, Betty, or Ada Jo these days?

Yes, Virginia, there was life before iPods and iPads.  Youth culture existed free from technology.  Before Supercuts and Starbucks, there were barber shops and coffee shops.  Look at that TEENSY coffee cup!  No blue tooth in sight.  People were actually looking UP.


Such was life in “Collegetown.”  Stay tuned for Part II!

the corner

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